Part I: Open Ideation

I joined Mozilla Labs recently to lead the team’s product marketing initiatives.  By coincidence, in my first team meeting we discussed what it meant to be “open”.  This led to a broader debate about how Labs is and should live up to its fundamental principles: openness, innovation, transparency, community participation and accelerated product development.

As one of my first projects, I’m evaluating areas where Mozilla Labs can further live up to its brand and ensure that it is doing its part to push the boundaries of the web experience.  To avoid developing this in a black hole, I wanted to open up the conversation to get your ideas.

To kick it off, let’s explore the concept of open ideation.  By “open ideation”, I mean providing a place for the community to post and present their ideas.  The goal is for the community to discuss and identify the ideas which should be developed into prototypes and, based on results, potentially be incorporated into Firefox and/or the web browsing platform.  But what is the most effective way for Mozilla Labs to accomplish this?

  • How can Mozilla Labs promote open ideation but still be able to drill down to a subset of ideas which will continue onto the prototype phase?  What should be the criteria and/or mechanism deployed for funneling the ideas?
  • If you posted your idea to Mozilla Labs what kind of feedback would be useful to you?
  • How much guidance would you want Mozilla Labs to provide around what ideas to discuss e.g., no guidance, general themes, specific questions, etc.?
  • Are there particular topics that you want to see Mozilla Labs discussing/blogging about more?
  • What are examples of organizations that are doing a great job in promoting and deploying open ideation with the broader community?

I look forward to your insights – leave your comments either on this blog or head over to our discussion group. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting a series of blog posts which address the areas needing the most input to further evolve Mozilla Labs.

– Mayumi on behalf of the Mozilla Labs team

10 responses

  1. Natanael L wrote on :

    Hmm, looks like my comment don’t show up…
    I’m not going to repeat everything right now, but I’ll rewrite it later and repost it if I have to.

  2. Natanael90 wrote on :

    I want this:

    Problem solving challanges. When you find an interesting problem, tell it here instantly. Give it to us as a challange before anything else. Then both the community and the Mozilla staff will start suggesting ideas and solutions. This could be a fun challange between the community and the staff (who has the better ideas?). Since it's all in the open, everybody can improve everybody's ideas as well.

    As said before, brainstorming tools are useful. It allows the community to suggest everything they can think of, and the ideas that most people like are going to get attention by the people who would make the prototypes. These ideas can then be discussed, probably in forums or in the brainstorming tool itself if it's works well enough for that.

    The guidance I would want is what priorities you have for the moment and long term. What ideas are you thinking of, and where do you need help and ideas? What are you most open to? Which areas need thinking trough?

    The feedback I want for ideas is if the idea is complete/understandable enough, if it makes sense, if there's already ideas like it, how good it is, what improvement is needed, how much work it would need to be accomplished, etc… Anything that can help the contributor make it better as well as being able to suggest even better ideas in the future.

    I think you should work as much in the open as possible, making it easy to follow your work. I'm probably not interested in an aggregated blog with *everything* you do since it would be impossible to follow and to understand most of it, but something like twittering about what you are thinking about a few times a day would work.

    The design team is doing something similiar: (see also

  3. BF98 wrote on :

    There is very simple solution for providing people with way to get their input on extension development and Firefox itself. You have add-on called "Add-on Compatibility Reporter" which is very limited at this point. People can report if extension works or if it is disabled/malfunctioning. I would guess it would be relatively easy to add third option: "Suggestions" and promote said add-on on front page for extra visibility. If Mozilla knows what people want from their extensions, you may deduce what features people want to be built into Firefox. Not everybody is going to report suggestions, but you can get sizable portion of active users to be your suggestion box.

  4. Siddhi wrote on :

    I think you're right to start this conversation around open ideation because I dont think anyone has cracked it yet. I did a small study on mass collaborative co-creation, a few years back now, and ended up focusing on

    Whats interesting about the threadless open ideation model is that it follows the classic stages of brainstorming.

    Idea generation:
    In the critique section of the forum users can get ongoing feedback on their ideas and submit iterations to reflect on community feedback

    On their scoring section, users can vote for submitted designs to later be converted into winning or loosing designs to be sold.

    However, I think, threadless is missing a trick. There is no shared ownership of designs, its still a very individual mechanic that doesn't leverage the potential of mass ideation. People have a vested interest in owning their ideas and making sure they get their rewards, this limits the potential for broader ideation at the start.
    I think ownership, in open ideation becomes a very relevant issue. A balance needs to be found that allows users to become engaged and invested in the process but that also allows for real cross pollination of ideas.

    Keep us posted on your ongoing conversation

  5. sami wrote on :

    I might have overlooked the memo but I wish there is a project for us non-developers called "I Wish FireFox Could Do" so we can dump our ideas there for developers to go thru it and pick what they like.
    I am one that you can call me Web Hopper. I join a lot forums and sites then forget about them for a long time. The ones I am interested in, I add to my bookmark. when I go there a few weeks or months later, I forget my user name, password, and why did I bookmark it.
    I wish there is a plug-in or a comment place in the bookmarks so i can add my thoughts for the next time I go to this website. It would even be better if I can export it just in case I need to re-image my PC.

  6. getestste wrote on :

    seems interesting…

  7. Børge wrote on :

    Ok, my first comment isn't comming back, I guess? Well, then, here it is again:

    I think the best way is to use a tool that lets anyone submit and vote on ideas. There are at least two FLOSS tools like this:
    IdeaTorrent from Canonical:
    and BBYIDX:

    Examples of others who have done it (right) includes:
    and even the US government: (down right now, but I'm guessing it will come back.)

    Some other parts of Mozilla is using Get Satisfaction, but I think a FLOSS tool would be better. BBYIDX looks really pretty, but I haven't tried it. I'd be very interested to hear what you think about it! IdeaStorm is kinda ugly, and it's far from perfect, but works well.

  8. Cesar Castro wrote on :

    I like the term 'open ideation'. I suggest a few key elements to make ideation a success:

    * frame a challenge or scenario (don't leave things open-eneded)
    * allow for people to build off of others ideas (i.e. don't make it hub-and-spoke)
    * make it event-based, not ongoing
    * set up a simple recognition system for top ideas and top contributors
    * promise the participants that you will actually do something with the results!

    Here's a link to a white paper I recently wrote on ideation:

  9. Børge wrote on :

    Hi. I posted a comment here recently, but I can't see it now. Perhaps it was held back in the comment moderation queue?

    1. mayumimoz wrote on :

      Found your post. Thanks for your feedback!